2 August 2022
President of the European Parliament
Address for the European Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma on 2 August 2022
It is an honour to be speaking at the commemoration ceremony of the European Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma.
On the night between the 2nd and 3rd of August 1944, the last 4,300 Sinti and Roma remaining in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp were sent to the gas chambers. Most of them women, children and elderly people.
Seven years ago, the European Parliament along with the European Commission declared the 2nd of August as “European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day”. Because remembrance of the horrors of the Holocaust – of the atrocities committed towards the 500,000 Sinti and Roma in Nazi-occupied Europe – is still today all so important. Despite decades of effort, we have not yet succeeded in combatting discrimination.
So on this solemn occasion; let us remember the lessons learned from the first recognition of the Roma and Sinti Holocaust and reaffirm that Romani people must enjoy the same rights and treatment as all Europeans citizens.
Europe must stand up for the values it holds to be true – the rule of law, democracy and equal treatment of all people. The moment we become complacent, is the moment we allow history to repeat itself.
Today, Europe is once again being put to the test. With Russia’s brutal, illegal war on Ukraine, Putin is threatening the very foundations of our European values.
It is our collective responsibility to make sure that our actions match our resolve.
Before I conclude, allow me to thank the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma for all the work that they are doing. By organising events like today’s in collaboration with Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, we remember crimes committed against humanity in the past, but we also remember the importance of speaking up, in the present.
It is thanks to your work that we have witnessed noticeable progress in the treatment of the Sinti and Roma communities in many areas of our society. So let today also be an occasion to celebrate Romani culture, history and language and to pay tribute to Roma and Sinti people’s contribution to the rich fabric of our European societies. Despite challenges that some still face, Romani citizens can be proud Europeans. Proud of the wealth that they bring to Europe.
Statements of previous years
Chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma
Vice President of the European Parliament
European Commissioner for Equality
Vice President of the German Bundestag
Dutch State Secretary Paul Blokhuis
Amb. Chris J. Lazaris, IHRA Chairman
UN Special Rapporteur UN minorities
President of the Synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD)
Prime Minister of Canada
Chairman of the Association of Roma in Poland